Financial Times honored Pillsbury lawyers for their pioneering work on two high-profile matters in connection with its 2018 Innovative Lawyers North America awards program in New York. Lawyers from the firm’s Energy practice took top honors at the Dec. 10 awards gala for helping clients access new markets with their trailblazing work on the UAE and Turkey’s first nuclear power plant projects, while a Litigation team earned a special commendation for its successful pro bono representation of a Florida transgender student in his fight to use the male bathrooms at his school.

Taking the night’s top honor in the Legal Expertise – Accessing New Markets and Capital category, Pillsbury’s premier nuclear energy practice was recognized for its innovative work on nuclear energy programs in two countries —the UAE and Turkey. 

A team led by Energy partners Will Fork, Jim Glasgow and retired Partner Charles Peterson, and that included Energy partners Elina Teplinsky and Michael Lepre, was recognized for advising Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation in the development of Barakah NPP, the UAE’s first nuclear power plant. Pillsbury has advised ENEC from its inception nearly 10 years ago in developing the UAE’s peaceful nuclear energy program, acting as the organization’s general counsel during the project development period. The work included the development and negotiation of an innovative EPC contract for the $20 billion Barakah project, the drafting of key nuclear laws and regulations and advising on all aspects of the project’s implementation.  

Financial Times especially noted the UAE project for its groundbreaking impact: When the Barakah plant is completed, the UAE will be the only Arab nation to have delivered a commercial nuclear plant and the first newcomer nation to the nuclear power industry in more than 30 years. Barakah is expected to supply up to 25 percent of the country’s electricity needs. 

“Pillsbury’s role in the Barakah development underscores the firm’s deep experience in cross-border energy regulatory and projects work and affirms our position as a market-leading advisor to the sector,” said Energy Industry Team Leader Sheila Harvey. “As the significant positive impact the Barakah plant will have on the UAE becomes increasingly clear, we’re thrilled that Financial Times has recognized our lawyers’ hard work and dedication to the project’s success.”

Further, the win highlights Pillsbury’s work, led by Teplinsky, advising Akkuyu Nukleer, a subsidiary of Russia’s Rosatom Atomic Energy Corp. on the development, structuring and financing of the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) in Turkey. Akkuyu NPP is the first nuclear power plant in Turkey and is being deployed using the world’s first Build-Own-Operate model.  Key team members included Vincent Zabielski, David Lewis, Will Fork, Samuel Pearse, Michael Jaffe and Aaron Hutman.

Additionally, in the Rule of Law and Access to Justice category, Pillsbury’s work in partnership with Lambda Legal on behalf of Florida high school senior Drew Adams was recognized as “highly commended.” In the case, a Pillsbury team proved that a St. Johns County School Board policy that excluded transgender students from using the restroom that matches their gender identity was an unconstitutional violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and Title IX of the 1972 Education Amendments Act. Financial Times notes that the case set a precedent for defining discrimination against transgender individuals in school based on gender identity. The Pillsbury team representing Adams included partners Jennifer Altman, Markenzy Lapointe, Shani Rivaux and Richard Segal, senior counsel Aryeh Kaplan, counsel Nathaniel Smith and associates Robert Boyd and William Miller.

The annual FT Innovative Lawyers North America rankings report and awards program recognizes the year’s most innovative and entrepreneurial lawyers from across the United States, Canada and Mexico, For the 2018 edition, more than 500 nominations were submitted by 94 law firms and 105 in-house legal teams. Honorees were determined based on a rigorous research process that included expert analysis, market surveys and hundreds of interviews with legal professionals.